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Former Hermiston resident found dead in Lincoln City

Circumstances of Beck’s death still unknown
By Jayati Ramakrishnan

Staff Writer

Published on November 20, 2017 7:17PM

Jeana Beck, a former Hermiston resident and autism advocate, was found dead in Lincoln City on Friday. Beck had been visiting the coastal town for a job conference with her son.

Contributed photo

Jeana Beck, a former Hermiston resident and autism advocate, was found dead in Lincoln City on Friday. Beck had been visiting the coastal town for a job conference with her son.

Jeana Beck wore many hats, as an autism advocate, a Board of Realtors member and a friend to many in Hermiston. But according to her son, one role really stood out. “She was ‘mom’ to all my friends, she was friends with all my friends,” said her son Jesse Smith. “Exactly what you’d want out of a mom.”

Beck was found dead in Lincoln City on Friday, after her son, Jacob Smith, reported her missing the night before. There were no visible marks on her when she was found, and the cause of death has yet to be determined. The circumstances surrounding her death are still unclear, and family and friends are searching for answers. According to the Lincoln City News Guard, she went out to have a cigarette on Thursday evening, and did not return to the Rodeway Inn where she and her son were staying. She was found in a canal behind the motel.

Smith said his mother was in Lincoln City accompanying Jacob to a job conference.

“We’ve heard multiple things,” Smith said. “We’ve heard everything you can think of. The truth is, we don’t know.”

Lincoln City Police Chief Keith Kilian said the circumstances of Beck’s death are still under investigation, and that they are waiting for the results of the autopsy report from the medical examiner’s office.

“Foul play is not suspected at this time,” Kilian said. “We are chasing down some leads as to where she could have gone before her death.”

Kilian said he hopes to receive the report by this week.

Smith said they don’t know much about the events that preceded his mother’s death, but they know she visited a bar that evening. He said someone did see her at the bar, but he’s not sure who.

Smith said his father, Darrell Smith, was the one who found his mother after getting a call that she was missing. Smith said his father spotted her body in the canal and called the police.

Beck had lived in Hermiston until June of this year, when she moved to Gresham. Two of her children, her son Jacob and daughter Julianna, lived with her in Gresham.

While in Hermiston, Beck became known for her work as an autism advocate. Jacob has autism and Beck founded a non-profit organization called Unlocking Autism. Last December, she donated Christmas gifts and a visit from Santa for autistic students at West Park Elementary, raising money through her membership with the Hermiston board of Realtors.

She was also active in helping Jacob go to a national zookeeper’s conference by making and selling jambalaya in the community.

Smith said he spoke to his mother a few hours before she went missing.

“She was excited to be at the coast,” he said. “Her friend was about to go there, and she was happy to spend time with Jacob.”

“The one thing I can say walking away from this is that I’m just happy she got to spend time with Jacob before it was all over,” Smith said.

A family friend has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses, and to help support Beck’s four children, ages 23, 21 and 18.

There is a funeral service for Beck on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m., at New Hope Church, 1350 S. Hwy 395, Hermiston.

Smith said they are looking for answers, but they also hope to be able to find peace of mind.

“I think all of us are taking it one day, one hour at a time,” he said. “We just want everyone to come and show respect at the funeral.”


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